Barcelona is a comparatively small city, being contained by the sea on the eastern side and the mountains to the west. However, this small space is crammed with activity, and your most sustainable mode of transport, your feet, will need some help if you’re to make the most of your time here. As with most cities, pollution is a problem, so electric-powered vehicles are perfect for traveling around, and cars seem to be quite tolerant of the hundreds of slower-moving vehicles on the road. Public transport in Barcelona is efficient and plentiful, but here we’re looking at more personalized and sustainable ways of getting around.
You’ll see a lot of bikes in Barcelona, and a lot of bike paths. Many of the streets, especially in the old town, are very narrow and are much better suited to bikes than cars. You’ll even see bikes indicated on the lights at pedestrian crossings, showing how acceptable it is to ride (safely) on the sidewalks here, and how much the Barcelona City administration has gotten behind the biking revolution. The most popular ride is the red and white-styled Bicing. However, in order to hire one of these you need a local resident identification number (NIE). Bicing bikes have stations all over the city and after hours, a truck re-distributes to the popular destinations so that in the morning, the stations are fully stocked again. For visitors, there are still plenty of options:
Green Bikes Barcelona are open seven days a week and you can rent a bike complete with locks, helmets and child seats (although helmets are not obligatory in Barcelona except for those under 16 years old). Green Bikes also refurbish bicycles, and for longer stays, you can even buy a bike from them and they will buy it back at 50% of the sale price when you leave. If you think you need a bit more help with the hills, then you might want to consider an electric bike.
e-bike rent has a range of e-bikes: from children’s, to foldable models, to trekking or mountain bikes for those planning a more adventurous route!
These strange-looking contraptions might remind you of something from a sci-fi film, with their fat tires gliding easily over Barcelona’s cobblestoned streets. They bowl along the seafront at pace, their riders upright and helmeted – and generally wearing a big grin, too. Segways are really only driven by tourists on guided tours, but they do add an exciting other-worldliness to your trip. Families with children over 10-years-old will especially enjoy the experience of seeing the sights in a fun new way.
If you do an internet search for ‘scooters’ in Barcelona, you’ll come up with a motorized Vespa-style vehicle, but here we’re talking about the ones you push along with your foot, except you don’t because they’re electric. Very popular with locals, the scooter avoids traffic completely as people just ride them on the sidewalk! The scooter is a nippy negotiator and most fold up into a portable form once you’ve reached your destination. Of course, if you long for the Vespa experience but still want to go green, there is also the electric sit-on scooter (over 18s only).
Tuk-tuks or Rickshaws
If you’ve ever travelled in Sri-Lanka, you will recognize these iconic passenger vehicles. In Barcelona, you can take a pedal-powered – electric ones are prohibited – for between 1 and 6 people. They’re a bit more convivial for group tours, and you can even grab an ice-cream on the go.
If you’d rather someone else do the work, you can sit back and be guided around the city in a rider-fueled rickshaw. The drivers often try to out-do each other for cool points and you’ll be able to choose from various genres of musical accompaniment. Book your ride online and have them come and collect you from your hotel or simply head down to Port Vell and take your pick!
By Helen Iles
Living in the Future is Helen’s personal journey towards discovering a more fulfilling and sustainable way of life.